Summary

Conflict Period:
World War II 1
Birth:
05 Apr 1893 2
Death:
Feb 1986 2
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Personal Details

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Full Name:
Ernest George Silvera 1
Full Name:
Ernest Silvera 2
Birth:
05 Apr 1893 2
Death:
Feb 1986 2
Residence:
Last Residence: Fresh Meadows, NY 2
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World War II 1

World War I 1

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Social Security:
Card Issued: New York 2
Social Security Number: ***-**-1870 2

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Stories

Maiden Voyage of The SS JOHN W BROWN: September 1942-May 1943

With cargo loading completed on October 14, 1942, the SS John W. Brown departed New York on the 15th of October starting her maiden voyage; bound for the Persian Gulf, where she would unload her strategic cargo of tanks, planes, vehicles, food and munitions for delivery overland to the Soviet Union; aiding in the war against Nazism. Her 14,400-nautical mile (16,560-statute mile; 26,667-km) route was designed avoid areas where Axis forces posed the greatest threats to Allied shipping. She made the first leg of the voyage in convoy, steaming down from New York Harbor to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba [NG.314], where she joined another convoy for the trip across the Caribbean Sea from Guantanamo to the Panama Canal Zone [GZ.9].

After passing through the canal to reach the Pacific Ocean, she steamed alone down the western coast of South America; requiring two weeks to reach Cape Horn. She then made a 17-day independent crossing of the South Atlantic Ocean to Cape Town, South Africa, stopping for two days to refuel and reprovision. Back underway, she steamed northward alone through the western Indian Ocean along the east coast of Africa, and anchored in the Persian Gulf on December 25, 1942; two and one half months after leaving New York.

Ports in the Persian Gulf were overwhelmed by the amount of cargo arriving from Allied countries, and so the John W. Brown was forced to lie at anchor for one month before she could begin to unload at Abadan, Iran, where she dropped off the two P-40s and some of the tanks she carried late in January 1943. It took another month and a half before she could enter port at Khorramshahr, Iran, to unload the rest of her cargo in March, 1943.

On March 16, 1943, the John W. Brown sailed to return to the United States. She steamed south from the Persian Gulf [with Convoy PB.31] along the eastern coast of Africa to Cape Town, again calling there for two days [then joining Convoy CN.16] before making a two-week crossing of the South Atlantic to Bahia, Brazil, where she arrived on April 23, 1943. There she joined a convoy [ BT.11] to steam north to Paramaribo, Surinam; proceeded upriver to Paranam to load bauxite, then steamed to Port of Spain, Trinidad, to load more bauxite. Fully loaded in Trinidad, she joined [Convoy TAG.60] to steam to Guantanamo Bay and then [Convoy GN.60] for the final leg of her voyage to New York City; where she arrived on May 27, 1943 completing her nearly eight month maiden voyage.

Wartime Merchant Marine

From September 19, 1942 to June 29, 1945 Chief Steward Ernest George Silvera served on the Liberty Ships S.S. John W. Brown (maiden voyage) and S.S. Augustus W. Merrimon (4 times consecutively), and then three times on the S.S. Lone Star. During that period, he was home a combined 6 months on leave and sailed in 40 wartime convoys. 

The Liberty Ships were wartime freighters, tankers and troop carriers, quickly built and lightly armed; organized under the U.S. War Shipping Administration as an integral part of the movement of tanks, planes, vehicles, munitions, supplies and troops globally. The missions were sometimes escorted by warships and as often as possible, included U.S. Naval Armed Guard gunners on board.

The convoys were a naval strategy clustering from dozens up to 100 or more supply ships sometimes escorted by heavily armed warships and always seeking strength in numbers. They traveled established routes between defining ports at either end, such as the GN series (from Guantanamo, Cuba to New York City) or its reverse route, coded NG. As a vessel sailed its voyage, from costal waterways to ocean crossings and sometimes other continents, it might move with one convoy or strategically pass through several convoys along its route; sometimes sailing one or more stretches alone, as did the Liberty Ship S.S. John W. Brown in the other story posted here.

Six of the 40 1942-1945 convoys my grandfather sailed in were part of his 4 month long first (also maiden) voyage on the Augustus W. Merrimon, begun September, 1943. Two of those same 6 convoys lost ships to German U-Boats' torpedo fire in the Medditerranean that October and November; and a third to attacks by German bombers that December. In a 1945 North Sea convoy aboard the SS Lone Star 2 other ships were heavily damaged by mines in the Scheldt  River.

 The WWII era mariners of the U.S. Merchant Fleet saw similarly hazardous duty during the late 1930s prelude to war and in its late 1940s aftermath. Although my grandfather's first trip on the Merrimon may have been his most violently challenged; the first post WWII vessel he shipped out on was among his most ill-fated journeys. That was on the deadly, final Murmansk run of the S.S. William H. Webb.

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